I recently got a macbook air and I'm trying to make my external HDD to work with it. OSX supports reading from NTFS but unfortunately it doesn't allow writing. I need my files to be accessible on any Windows machine so I can't simply format it to HFS+. I know you can enable write support manually but Apple disabled this because it seems to be unstable, as are the third-party alternative as you can find user complaining all over the internet.

I'd rather dodge the problem using a filesystem that's fully supported on both Windows and OSX and go for exFAT (aka FAT64). My problem is I don't want to loose the files that are already on my HDD on the unique NTFS partition. What I want to do is create another partition using the remaining space of the HDD, format it to exFAT and then transfer all my files before formatting the NFTS to exFAT and merge it to get only one big exFAT partition containing everything. I've already done something similar using GParted but it seems it doesn't support exFAT due to patents on exFAT (thank you for that Microsoft.).

Do you know any software that would do the trick? It can come either as a liveCD or as an OSX software.

  • Have you actually used those third-party NTFS applications to detainee how stable they are? There are also tons of partition managers on OS X that support exFAT product suggestions are most on topic at Superuser – Ramhound Sep 11 '13 at 19:36
  • I didn't actually try the third-party software myself so I'm not saying it's bad, I'm saying I read others' complaint about it. I would normally take such a risk, but exFAT seems to be the best alternative for me here, don't you agree? Can you point me to a software that's able to split my current partition to format it without wiping all files on it? – francoisr Sep 11 '13 at 19:50
  • Windows barely supports it itself you can't even boot to it. Just saying – Ramhound Sep 12 '13 at 10:16
  • Related: Create HFS+ Partition on Existing NTFS Drive, but format the new partition with exFAT instead of HFS+. – Lawrence Sep 16 '19 at 16:54

I've never done this personally, but I'll test it tonight with my Hackintosh. I offer no warranty that it will work and will not break your computer or external drive.

  • Edit /etc/fstab (you can do this with “sudo vi /etc/fstab”)
  • Add the following line: 'LABEL=”VOLUME_NAME_WITHOUT_QUOTES” none ntfs rw,auto,nobrowse'
  • Quit your editor Now, just unmount and re-mount the disk

obtained from http://prateekvjoshi.com/2013/04/21/ntfs-write-support-on-os-x-mountain-lion/

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  • Thanks for your answer. I actually already tested it, and it didn't work. However, even if it did work I would really like formatting my HDD to exFAT to avoid such compatibility problems. Formatting to exFAT will resolve the problem not just for my mac, but for everyone else's. It means I can just give my HDD to a friend and it will be both readable and writable whether he's using OSX or Windows. Beats you solution IMHO. – francoisr Sep 11 '13 at 20:04
  • Then the only thing else I could think of is: a.) Using 3rd party utilities; or b.) copying your files to a different location, formatting in exFAT, and copying them back. It's impossible to straight format without losing data and the extend portion plain wont work thanks to microsoft – Joshua Parnell Sep 12 '13 at 13:19

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